About Camp Kindle
Camp Kindle was established in August of 1998. The organization’s Founder and President, Eva Payne, has been an advocate for people impacted by HIV and AIDS since the mid-nineties and has an extensive background in youth camping programs. As a 21-year-old college student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Eva realized that each year hundreds of young people impacted by HIV and AIDS were not having the opportunity to attend a summer camping program which focused on their particular needs. She had a dream to start a summer camp, which would offer children living with HIV and AIDS the chance to be accepted, find hope and friendship along with developing their knowledge of wellness and personal strengths. The demand for this therapeutic and recreational intervention, coupled with her experience provided the foundation for Camp Kindle. Mandy Nickolite, 22 at the time, came on board as the Vice President and Camp Director in January of 1999. She brought with her a strong background in mental health. At the time, she was working on her Masters in Counseling at Doane University in Nebraska. In July of 1999, with the help of 30 professional volunteer staff members, Camp Kindle held its first camp session in Hordville, Nebraska serving 50 campers. In 2005, Camp Kindle West was established and serves children in the Western United States.
Camp Kindle Day Camp was established in 2012 to serve children with any health challenge. The camp is held in June each year through the help of funding from local foundations, companies and individuals. This one week camp focuses on Math, Science, Music and Art programs and is 100 percent cost free to its participants. Because of the high needs of the participating campers, most are paired with a counselor forming a 1:1 camper/staff ration. All the Camp Kindle Day Camp staff are volunteers.
Camp2U also began in 2012 when a group serving mostly children on the Autism Spectrum asked Kindle to bring a camp program to them. The one day camp featured camp songs, arts and crafts, science experiments, and lunch. Camp2U continues to serve children that cannot attend a traditional weeklong day camp or residential camp program.
Today, Camp Kindle’s camp programs have served over 3,000 children.
The purpose of Camp Kindle is to enhance the overall well-being of children and young people living with a chronic or life threatening illness, disability, or other life challenge. Camp Kindle’s primary mechanism for achieving its purpose is through camping events held in Nebraska and California. The camps provide youth facing health challenges residing throughout the Central and Western United States with a safe and accepting refuge from the challenges they face on a daily basis. These camps offer opportunities for young people to strengthen self-esteem through interactive participation in educational and recreational programming. Camp Kindle provides supportive environments where children and young adults can safely explore opportunities for growth and acceptance. Camp Kindle also offers year round support designed to offer encouragement and education both during camp and throughout the year.
Our vision is to offer the young people we serve a chance to build a stronger future, one in which they believe in themselves, and where they have the leadership and character to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others.